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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Medina to Brockport, NY
Cloudy and threatening but nada
08/29/2008, Brockport, NY

Can you find Swee'Pea in the art sculpture above?

Nice day. After a shower this morning we headed out for Brockport. Wayne and I both marvel at how clean and kept up everything is along the canal. You don't see a lot of trash along the canal walls or along the rivers. It's impressive.

Brockport's a lovely little town. $8 to park on the wall, there's water, power, showers, laundry and free bikes and wagons to use to go into town. After getting settled in, we strolled the town and got ice cream and looked about in the local bookstore. It's an awesome bookstore... We're nestled in on the south wall between the two lift bridges. SUNY is to the west of us and it looks like all the college kids are coming back to campus. It reminds me of the college towns up north, older, but vibrant and alive. We did a circuit across one Lift Bridge and then back around on the other. Along the way back we saw the two motor boats that we followed along the way here, Missy, and I'm drawing a blank on the other boat's name - from Erie, PA (he said just call me Fred); they both run the marina in Gasport and helped us tie up here on the wall. I hate to say it but it was the worst job I've ever done pulling up to a wall (embarrassing). We stopped and chatted with them, they were most helpful with where to stop for petrol, groceries, etc... along the way. Thank you, thank you guys J Coming back to the boat we noticed an Island Packet tied up in front of us from Grosse Isle (The Dove). We were trying to remember what size we had in the Virgin Islands and couldn't remember if Avante' was a 30 or 32 footer it looked about the same size as The Dove (Laura or Greg - do you remember?) - a very nice boat that is also heading for the Bahamas... We chatted with them for a bit and I get the feeling that we just hit Wardell's on one of his off days or something. They had their mast taken down and ran into Carpe' Diem there too. So, so far there are two other boats that we've met that are also southbound.

We started to walk into town on the other side of the lift bridge to go to a recommended restaurant by the family dollar but on the way there passed by the Stoneyard Restaurant that we were told caters to the college kids. We didn't make it past the Stoneyard. While walking through the pathway to the lift bridge Wayne said, "look at those sandwiches" I scoped out the burgers and beers and we both did an about-face turn and ordered a couple of drafts and burgers that came with these unbelievable fries! Now you kids know I'm not fond of fries, and they normally stay on my plate but I've got to tell you that there wasn't one fry remaining on my plate! One of the new owners came around asking how things were and Wayne told him of my affinity for fries. He said he'd noticed my examining the fries from inside and asked how I liked them. I told him kudos to the chef (Chef Tom). The burger's were awesome and fries too. He was telling us how they were going through some changes and that the beef was special ground round, hand cut and seasoned by them. I would definitely come back again. I don't remember the name of their signature sandwich (pork, apple bacon, and a host of other items...) but if the burgers were any indication - I'd definitely try it next time! The restaurant/bar is rundown, but the food makes it a place definitely worth coming back to.

09/02/2008 | Mother Mary
Hey Patti.... I have spent the morning catching up with you and your BLOG....You are doing a great job keeping folks informed. One thing I learned is you are drinking a lot of coffee.. :-) Take Care and MISS YOU!!!!
10/14/2008 | Ron and Jane
Pat and Wayne
Just found your blog, slow day at work. Glad to have met you both in Brockport and nice to hear how well your trip is going. Jane and I hope to be able to take off in our boat someday, but first we have to get the boys out of college and on thier own.

Good luck, fair winds and calm seas to both of you!

Ron and Jane aboard the Missy

PS - the other boat in Brockport was named Danita after it's owners, Dan and Anita. (but you can call him Fred!)
Mike's dead pecker
08/29/2008, On the canal from Medina to Brockport

Hey Mike and Kat, I don't know if you're reading this but we saw this strange pontoon/houseboat with a dead woodpecker with feet up in the air, painted on it - on the way here from Medina - called Pecker! So Mike - the dead pecker is still alive and well and floating around between Medina and Brockport! It cracked us up when we saw it because we remembered you talking about it!

Lockport to Medina
Cloudy, drizzly to light rain today, High: 68-72
08/28/2008, Medina, NY

Made a Sausage/egg and fruit breakfast after coffee this morning, then, when we went up top I saw a lumber barge was parked down the wall from us. It was the same one we passed on the way here that was cutting branches and trees along the canal. Wow - We both must have been sleeping like logs to miss that guy coming in and tying to the wall last night. Talked to Penelope this morning and let her know that all's well. She called me her wandering little sister; She's always been my Rock of Gibraltar. I got all choked up thinking about her (and Wendell) - our lives and all the paths we've been down as kids and adults. I love you (both)...

Onward to the Locks - It was exciting - my first lock in the Erie Canal - Lock 35. Armed with mooring lines and boat hooks in hand, we took a portside stance and listened as the doors clanked shut with a creaking groan. The water level started dropping and we dropped the first 25 ft. As the next doors opened there were 2 boats waiting on the same side of the wall as us (one a large tour boat and the other a canal house boat) so we entered the next lock (#34) around them to the starboard side and then they came through into the lock we vacated. Another 25-foot drop and we have now officially transited our 1st two locks on the Erie Canal. The Lock Master told us he'd let the Exchange Street Lift bridge operator know that we were coming, and informed us that the same bridge tender operated the Adams Street Bridge too. So there was only one operator for both bridges - good exercise I guess... It was funny because as we got to the first lift bridge it started opening like magic as we approached. The next one we called to make sure he was there and he told us to come ahead - it'd be open as we got there.

The countryside along the canal is breathtaking in spots. Wildflowers, apple orchards, farms (one farmer was spreading manure from his tractor and some kind of spraying, throwing equip. that jettisoned the cow manure from a trailer attached to the tractor) older homes and newer ones, parks and a few small marinas were scattered about. Sections of the canal were aqueduct and I couldn't get over how in spots, when you looked to the north, the canal was higher than the surrounding landscape. You could look north and see the tops of the houses and waaaaay below, huge fields of corn and orchards. It felt like we were suspended in air looking down on the landscape. I couldn't believe we were - in a boat - in water, but higher than the surrounding landscape. It felt totally bizarre.
Seeing all the beautiful apple trees along the way (wild ones just as lush in their fruit bearing activity as the orchards) made me want an apple so it was apples and oatmeal cookies for lunch LOL. All along the way I kept seeing this incredible sandstone that was strewn along the canal walls, some red, some grey/tan. But it was the same type I have back in my classroom with ripple marks, some quite large. According to the charts it comes from the Medina quarries, which has shipped it's sandstone all over the world. Buckingham palace was one place it was used, that stood out in my mind, along with the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.

We tied up along the south wall of Medina, east of the Medina lift bridge. The bridge tender asked if we'd like the code to use the facilities here and we told him yes, thank you very much. They have free showers (very clean), power, pump out (do it yourself for donations), and water along the south wall. The pump out station looks like an outhouse with a moon cut out LOL - very cute. They also have a small farmers market set up today (Thursday) along the south wall too where the local farmers were selling their fruits and vegetables. We walked through town in the rain and of course I had to ohhhhh and ahhhh and take pictures of all the old architecture, built with the sandstone. They have quite a few churchs here, quite beautiful, and the downtown had made extensive use of the sandstone. Oh, the graffiti on one bridge was quite interesting - very anti-Satan - and I'll leave it at that. We crossed over to the north side - there are tie-ups there for boats that are free too but there's no power or amenities - and followed the canal wall. You could hear it before you could see it - the sound of rushing water. As we rounded a bend you could look down about 100 ft and see forest and a river below the canal, and further around the bend was a waterfall! A river passes under the canal with a waterfall right under the canal!!! It's like the canal truly is suspended over the whole countryside here! Amazing... I can't believe that there were no professional engineers that had a hand in building this canal, aqueduct marvel!!! Further up there's a place where a road goes under the canal. It only has 7 ft clearance, but it's the only road where you can drive under the canal (it crosses over Culvert Rd on an aqueduct). After wandering the town and canal wall we came back to the boat, shook off the rain, and tried to pull in the Lion's game. Reception was bad and we couldn't pull in any channels on the T.V. so we put the T.V. back away after moving it to various places in the boat. In a couple places if you held the end of the antenna you could hear parts of the game over the static, but I wasn't going to stand there acting like an antenna attachment to "listen" to the game... Salmon burgers, salad and oranges for dinner and time to download my pictures...
I'll try and post them in the next few days.

09/02/2008 | Mother Mary
Guess what? It is the first day of school and Elaine is there without either of us....I know you must be feeling it this first year but just look at what you are accomplising......ENJOY

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